War of the Worlds - Tom Cruise
I'm a great fan of science fiction movies, and I actually like Tom Cruise movies. I thought this would be a perfect pairing of genre and actor for me. It's even based on a story by H. G. Welles, who was an amazing writer.
First, I'll talk about what the movie did well. The effects were great. The snaky camera of the alien machines looked like the Abyss creatures, with a mechanical scaliness of a serpent. The family dynamics were done well. We have a distant father, a sullen teenage boy, a claustrophobic daughter, and a pregnant-mom-with-new-guy off in Boston. I realize that these movies have to make everyone insanely silly at the beginning of the story so that they can grow, mature and learn by the end.
That being said, I watched the movie with my boyfriend and by the end there were a ton of issues we both had racked up on our list. First, while the general sound and soundtrack was great, including the great "noises" made by the aliens at various times, the screaming of Dakota Fanning drove me *completely insane*. One or two would have done well to be "extreme" moments for her. To have her screaming in every single screen made it repetitive and really annoying.
The teen son was good in that he went from "typical" Hollywood sullen irresponsible kid to mature, take-action young man. That being said, just what was he doing during the climactic "let me go" scene with his dad? He just wanted to go *look* over the hill and his dad was refusing to let him? The argument seemed meaningless. Then to have the area blasted by fire immediately afterwards was far too quick for dramatic reasons.
The movie seemed to be a tribute to mankind's stupidity - that surely we did not deserve to live and only the fact that virusses are around saved us. Nasty lightning is raining from the skies, and moms are taking infants out to see it. Gigantic monsters are climbing out of the ground, and crowds of humans push each other closer to see what they are like. Flaming death is over the hill - and everybody goes walking towards it to take a look. Even when the death machine crashes to the ground, Tom runs forward *with pre-teen in his arms* to be right next to it and look inside. Surely we have had many natural disasters in our own lifetime, and yes, some people are harsh. Many people, though, are helpful and risk their own lives to help each other! This view of mankind was incredibly harsh and in many cases unbelievable.
Which brings me to the most questionable part - when Tom is invited in to a safe hideout by an ambulance worker. The worker talks with them, keeps them safe, is sharing his food and water. When the worker decides to try to tunnel to safety - which, to be honest, sounded like a good idea to me - Tom *slays him*. Why not go to another house? He was invited *in* to this place, and when he disagrees with the owner he kills the guy?? That bothered me a great deal.
Now, for the aliens. We get the sense they came to Earth for the water, and that they'd had this plan in mind for maybe thousands of years. They don't want to *exterminate* all humans - they are using our blood. So this is more some sort of food chain situation, sort of like us raising chickens. We wouldn't want to kill all chickens, we want to round them up and breed them so they'd always be around. Also, it's not like they hate us! If they did, they would've wiped us out many years ago, when there were fewer of us. They find us useful. Heck, maybe they waited for us to irrigate the world more before stepping in to take over.
Still, I found their wiping out humans one by one with the death rays to be a little silly. If their aim was to whittle us down to 10% of our population to keep for food, and wipe out the remaining 90%, surely such a vast intellect would have a better way to do that. Maybe they'd keep Australia and use poison gas on the rest of the population. Why would they go seeking out humans one by one to either kill them or eat them? Australia's an island. They could sweep up enough humans to meet their quota, drop them in Australia and then just do some sort of massive blast everywhere else. If there was a reason for this one-by-one pickoff, it would have been nice for them to show it somehow. Otherwise it seemed very silly.
Speaking of silly, they did a giant EMT blast in New York. It took out cars, TVs, lights, house phone, cell phones, even watches. However, two seconds later, at the "hole in the ground", people are taking pictures with cameras and video cameras. Those were magical non-EMT-reactive devices? Hmmmmmmmmm.
I am all for dark movies. I'm all for looking at the seedy side of live. However, I need a movie to have context and sense, intellectually, to be able to really lose myself in it and enjoy it. The plot holes in this one were just *gigantic* and, honestly, quite unnecessary. I could think of a hundred ways to have tweaked the movie to take care of the problems. It is amazing to me that Spielburg focussed so much on the special effects and flash in this movie, when he has shown elsewhere that he is *capable* of the actual plotline and characters, if he only cares enough to take the time.
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